02 Dec 2007

Milano Stitch

That’s what I’m calling that stitch pattern, because that is where I learned it. If it has another name, I’m not aware of it, and I don’t want to know. You don’t have to call it Milano stitch, if you don’t want to. However, I have wonderful memories of that day in Milan, and if I found out the stitch pattern was really called Eye of the Toad, or Pennsylvania Logroller’s Dream, it would totally ruin it for me. So don’t tell me, okay?

There isn’t really a pattern, per se, for the scarf I knit, but the stitch pattern is so easy, I swear you can make up your own pattern. Milano stitch is great for adding texture and works nicely to dress up what would otherwise be dull, flat solidly-coloured rectangles. Best of all, I have tried the stitch with variegated yarns, and was delighted with the results, as those little PSSO’s break up any tendency towards color pooling. That, alone, makes this stitch a keeper.

That being said, those very same PSSO’s work to form quite a dense fabric. I cast on about 30 stitches, and there were a couple of false starts on my Milano scarf, as I found I needed to increase needle size more than once in order to get the drape I wanted in the fabric. The oddball yarn was mostly DK weight, and in the end I think I used a 6.5mm (US 10.5/UK 3). Thank goodness Chris had brought her Knitpicks Options, (although I had to lurk in the hotel hallway that last morning, trying to remember which door was hers, in order to return them!)

I still haven’t found a way to solve the uneven-tension-in-the-edge-stitches problem. Yesterday morning I swatched a little, to see if a garter stitch edge worked for me, and it didn’t. Then I wondered if the stitch could be worked in the round. (No edges, no problem.) It can.


That’s about 3 inches of Trekking XXL leftover from Brother Amos. It’s too dense for a sock (I used my standard 2.25mm sock needles, and 3.5 or 4mm would have been better) and there is not enough yarn anyway, but it does look just about the right size for a sweater for Velvet. Pam still has her childhood Velvet doll, for which I occasionally knit fabulous sweaters from leftover sock yarn. Evidence of our great love for Velvet is writ large over her wardrobe.

So here’s that stitch pattern, in writing this time. Over an even number of stitches, work pattern as follows:

Row 1 – *S1, K1, yo, psso both. Repeat from * to end.
Row 2 – P all to end.
Row 3 – K1 *Sl1, K1, yo, psso both. Repeat from *to last stitch, end K1.
Row 4 – As for row 2.

For a scarf, this is one of those instances where a swatch is probably a waste of time. Use two needle sizes bigger than you would normally use for the yarn, and just cast on, and go for it.

As for the the uneven-tension-in-the-edge-stitches thing, well, you might be a better knitter than me, and not have that problem. If you do, there’s the single crochet up the sides option, or you could decide it just doesn’t matter. Or it could be a feature. A drapey stole with one edge longer than the other might make it sit better on your shoulders.

Posted on December 2, in Blog


  1. Tres wrote:

    I was SOOO excited when I checked that there you were, I can’t wait to have a listen and try the stich. It will have to wait until after the holidays as I am in the throws of crazy holiday knitting. can’t wait to sit and knit to your amazing voice!!! Don’t leave us for so long next time OK? T (From Vermont were this morning it was 9 degrees when I woke up)

    Posted on 12.2.07 ·
  2. Jerry wrote:

    I was intrigued hearing this on your latest podcast and seeing it is amazing! Love the stitch, thanks for sharing. Oh, and the wedding dress is beautiful! I wish them many years of happiness together.

    Posted on 12.2.07 ·
  3. Angie wrote:

    Welcome back, and I love the stitch – what a great texture! Like Tres, it’s going to have to wait until Holiday Mania subsides.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    Posted on 12.3.07 ·
  4. sandy l wrote:

    I had a Velvet doll growing up! I wonder if she’s in a box in my mom’s basement. I also had (and still have) the Simone doll. She is the same size as Velvet. But she really needs a new wardrobe. I found one pattern that my mom has, but I’m curious how you make Velvet’s sweaters. You’re probably experienced enough to just knit them.

    Posted on 12.3.07 ·
  5. Sara in WI wrote:

    Ooh! I just tried the Milano stitch with Mountain Colors. Mmmm. Thanks for sharing! BTW, when I downloaded Brother Amos I couldn’t open it. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    Posted on 12.3.07 ·
  6. Sally in Seattle wrote:

    Loved the podcast–almost as good as being with you on the trip (I strongly considered it!) The wedding dress is lovely, thanks for sharing it’s story. Thanks for sharing the stitch pattern too.

    Posted on 12.3.07 ·
  7. Beverly wrote:

    Thank you for sharing the stitch pattern. I am very anxious to try it. Maybe my next pair of socks…

    Posted on 12.4.07 ·
  8. Pam wrote:

    Oh Goody! Something new and fabulous for Velvet! I think I’ve seen that stitch pattern before….I believe it was called the fishmonger’s eye patch…or maybe it was the jolly sausage maker’s toque. Oh, wait a minute, it was called the consumptive warbler’s lament. I’m sure of it.

    Posted on 12.5.07 ·
  9. Mary wrote:

    I am testing out the Milano Stitch in Scarf form in Noro Big Kureyon using US 11 needle, it’s a little lacey & a bit leaning to the left while I knit. I also wanted to say that I enjoy your stories and the essays & the music that you’ve picked for the show each week. Glad to hear you are feeling back to your old self.

    Posted on 12.5.07 ·
  10. Hi Brenda! Thanks for the podcast fix – it was perfect as always! I’d love to hear more about Italy itself. The stitch and the non-verbal teaching of it: sheer beauty. By the way, I downloaded directly from your site and at the end there was a little hiccup, and then you very clearly saying “%#(@!” Thought you might want to know. *grin*

    Posted on 12.5.07 ·
  11. Erin wrote:

    I love that stitch. I can’t wait to cast on my own scarf in some pretty Fall colored yarn, by the way I’m now inspired to travel and learn the language of knit in foreign lands. The wedding dress is beautiful and she looks gorgeous in it – many years of happiness to both of them.

    Posted on 12.7.07 ·
  12. Renee wrote:

    Oh, so glad that the stitch pattern is now posted. Must cast on!

    Posted on 12.10.07 ·
  13. Kara wrote:

    I loved the pod cast as always. Anyway, I’m actually elated over the stitch pattern and can’t wait to try it! 😀 Thanks for posting it.

    Posted on 12.11.07 ·
  14. nashama wrote:

    i knit scarves in this stitch in manos last year for a few gifts. they were amongst the most-loved knitted gifts i’ve given, and is the pattern i’m asked for more than any other (i think).
    i always edge them by slipping the first stitch of each row and knitting the last. gorgeous edge that works well with this stitch.

    Posted on 12.14.07 ·
  15. Katy wrote:

    I love the podcast, and after this last episode, I could not get the Milano stitch out of my head. I am knitting a scarf out of Interlacements Peru, using the Milano stitch, and it is so much fun to watch the colors unfold before my eyes. I think I may have a way to fix the uneven sides. I cast on an odd number of stitches and slipped the first stitch knitwise on all rows before beginning the pattern stitch. I blocked the bit I’ve knitted and that smoothed out any rolling I was worried about. I put some pics on my blog…thank you for sharing your experience …and the stitch!

    Posted on 12.14.07 ·
  16. Marc wrote:

    Hello, my name is Marc Gual and I’m from Barcelona, in Spain.
    I’m so sorry. I’m afraid it’s not so kind to enter here this way and to ask for help. I know I’m talking about a matter wich is completely diferent than Stitch. Besides, my English is so bad…
    I followed Brenda’s track till here because of her lovely (your lovely) voice which I have listened at Livri-Box in the reading of “The Age of Innocence”. Such a lovely voice… I supposed that it would belong to a lovely person. So I dare to ask you a favour. There’s a nice and wonderful poem by Tolkien in “The lord of the Rings”. In this poem the Ents sing about the loss of their wives. It’s a long time since I look for a recording of this poem, but haven’t found it in the internet. Finally I thought of this: would it be possible to have this recording from you? I know this is an abusive demand, and I will understand your refusal. Anyway, here you are the text of the poem and I hope that, in any case, you enjoy it. However, if ever you decided to record it, you can find me at marc_gual@yahoo.es

    Thanks for your attention and sorry again.

    ‘When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf,
    and sap is in the bough;
    When light is on the wild-wood stream,
    and wind is on the brow;
    When stride is long, and breath is deep,
    and keen the mountain-air,
    Come back to me! come back to me,
    and say my land is fair!’

    ‘When Spring is come to garth and field,
    and corn is in the blade;
    When blossom like a shining snow
    is on the orchard laid;
    When shower and Sun upon the Earth
    with fragrance fill the air,
    I’ll linger here, and will not come,
    because my land is fair.’

    ‘When Summer lies upon the world,
    and in a noon of gold
    Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves
    the dreams of trees unfold;
    When woodland halls are green and cool,
    and wind is in the West,
    Come back to me, Come back to me,
    and say my land is best!’

    ‘When summer warms the hanging fruit
    and burns the berry brown;
    When straw is gold, and ear is white,
    and harvest comes to town;
    When honey spills, and apple swells,
    though wind be in the West,
    I’ll linger here beneath the Sun,
    because my land is best!’

    ‘When winter comes, the winter wild
    that hill and wood shall slay;
    When trees shall fall and starless night
    devour the sunless day;
    When wind is in the deadly East,
    then in the bitter rain
    I’ll look for thee, and call to thee;
    I’ll come to thee again!’

    ‘When winter comes and singing ends;
    when darkness falls at last;
    When broken is the barren bough,
    and light and labour past;
    I’ll look for thee, and wait for thee,
    until we meet again:
    Together we will take the road
    beneath the bitter rain!’

    ‘Together we will take the road
    that leads into the West,
    And far away will find a land
    where both our hearts may rest.’

    Posted on 12.19.07 ·
  17. Lise wrote:

    Thanks so much for the stitch. I’m using it as an accent stitch on a very simple glove pattern for X-mas gifting this year. I’m using the same gauge as the rest of the gloves, so a much tighter stitch than your drapey scarf, but it’s turning out really beautifully.

    Posted on 12.20.07 ·
  18. Alanna wrote:

    Knitting memories shall be ever preserved thanks to you and your work. Thanks

    Posted on 12.20.07 ·
  19. Tammy wrote:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who knits for adults’ playthings…


    Posted on 1.5.08 ·
  20. Ru Temple wrote:

    Thanks for the confirmation in print of what I thought I heard in the podcast!
    Yes, we’ve seen the stitch in a collection, and carefully pencilled in your new name for it, with the date and reason – since after all this is a folk art, and Folk Tradition rules apply!

    Pam, speaking of folk trad, those sure sound like the names of fiddle tunes to me. Have you been dipping into the O’Neill’s, Portland, or Raven collections again?

    Marc, alas, Brenda would need written copyright clearance permission from the Tolkien literary estate to record the poem. Um, Brenda, if we took up a collection and asked Real Nice, would you do and publish an audio edition of Tolkien’s poetry? Surely if Stephen Fry can pick up pocket change doing voicework…


    Posted on 1.21.08 ·
  21. Beverly wrote:


    seems like the same pattern, maybe it does have a name..

    Posted on 4.25.08 ·
  22. Lisa wrote:

    I am new to your podcast, having just discovered it in iTunes. I have been listening to some old posts (as well as new ones), and absolutely loved your description of a knitters journey in Italy. Thanks for posting the Milano stitch – I am looking forward to trying it out!

    Posted on 4.8.09 ·
  23. R wrote:

    You might also like this website I found.

    Posted on 1.20.10 ·
  24. Marta Jimenez Orellana wrote:

    May you translate to spanish, please, because I didnt understand it and I like so much your knit. Pleeaase.

    Posted on 1.5.13 ·
  25. ShirlR wrote:

    This is a lovely stitch – love the yarn too.

    Posted on 8.21.13 ·
  26. Naomi Paz Greenberg wrote:

    regarding the stitch, I’ve worked a similar stitch and a way to counter the bias which this kind of stitch sets up is to use a muuuuuuch larger needle. It can make a lovely lace.

    Thanks for this variation.


    Posted on 1.7.14 ·
  27. Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing for your feed and I am hoping you write once more soon!

    Posted on 2.12.15 ·
  28. Sue Alford wrote:

    What is the name and brand of yarn that you used for your Milano scarf. The colors are beautiful. I have been looking for that color combination. Yarns that I have found have one more color added or one color less. Those colors are beautiful. I am so happy I stumbled on to this site. Thank you !!

    Posted on 11.1.15 ·

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